Wednesday, June 12, 2019


Benay Blend has written a kvetchy little piece on the antisemitic Mondoweiss about how her Arab friend Rima Najjar got banned from Quora. Blend would have us believe that Najjar’s voice is being silenced because of her “national origin.” She suggests there is a concerted effort to still voices such as Najjar’s citing a piece I wrote some years back called “Quora: The New Battlefront for Israel.”
The piece appears on the Israel Forever Foundation website, the brainchild of Dr. Elana Yael Heideman. I met Dr. Heideman at a bloggers meet-up about 5 years ago. She was getting ready to launch her website and was looking for content that showed a love of Israel. Elana didn’t care if I were right or left-wing, Haredi or Reform. All she cared about was whether I had something true and nice to say about Israel.
Elana Heideman’s belief was that Jews were too concerned with what divided us and needed to focus more on what we shared. She wanted us to get back to that basic connection that we have as a people, and she believed the key to that connection was Israel. A love for Israel was something we shared, no matter our different backgrounds.
I liked the concept and so, from time to time, I’d write something up for her website. These pieces were always written from the standpoint of unapologetic love for Israel. Because that is the entire thrust of the Israel Forever Foundation, and a writer always tailors the writing to the venue.
Blend, on the other hand, would have you believe that the Israel Forever Foundation and those of us who volunteer our time and content there, are a sort of militia, aimed at robbing others of their right to free speech. Of Najjar’s banishment from Quora, Blend writes:
She handled herself with grace and strength, always clear in her convictions, but that was not enough to counter the concerted effort of groups like the Israel Forever Foundation, which runs pieces such as Varda Epstein’s in which she describes how she “fight[s] back” against pro-Palestinian voices on social media, including Quora. Using military terms, she vows to “obliterate” any anti-Israel bias that she finds. “Because this is war, Habibi,” she declares, thereby announcing a war of words that she will win by default if there are no Palestinian voices left on Quora.
This, of course, is a distortion of the truth, or an outright lie. It is certainly lacking in context. From the perspective of the Israel Forever Foundation and from my own perspective, Najjar is free to say whatever she likes. She is even free to lie, because the Israel Forever Foundation isn’t concerned with freedom of speech issues or in silencing dissent.
I asked Elana Heideman to sum up the purpose of the Israel Forever Foundation: why she does what she does. She wrote:
Israel Forever was created to bridge the gap in knowledge, understanding, and engagement with Israel as a vital and vibrant element of Jewish life and identity. With the growing hate rhetoric, lies and demonization of Israel and Jews, our content and resources are our contribution to educators, parents, youth or community leaders, or anyone wanting to strengthen their connection or activism opportunities. Whether in social media or in person, we all must do all we can to equip and empower people to know and protect Jewish history, rights and freedom - in Israel and everywhere in the world - today, tomorrow and FOREVER.
I don’t see anything in there about silencing voices or silencing dissent. The purpose of the Israel Forever Foundation, rather, is to offer a resource to strengthen Jewish identity. It’s to encourage people to take an active stand against the lies we see from people like Blend by coming back at them with the truth.
The Israel Forever Foundation is not meant to silence or divide. It is meant to draw the Jewish people closer together. It’s certainly not about silencing “pro-Palestinian voices.”
As for me, I don’t fight against voices. I fight against lies, with words.
It would not occur to me to “obliterate” a voice, and I wouldn’t even know how.
I would, on the other hand, do everything in my power to obliterate anti-Israel bias, whenever and wherever it is encountered, such as the bias we see in Blend’s Mondoweiss piece. An example of such bias is her reference to my use of “military terms.”
Here were the “military terms” I used:
I want to answer that [anti-Israel Quora question] in such a way that my Israel-loving bias will obliterate the anti-Israel bias expressed in that question. Because this is war, Habibi.
And true love will always win out.

Najjar is getting ready to sue Quora. Her lawyer says that the ban imposed on her by Quora is “based solely on ‘her advocacy for Palestinian rights through her opposition to Zionism’ and for ‘unlawfully deny[ing] her access to a place of public accommodation on the basis of Dr. Najjar’s national origin.’”
But nowhere in Blend’s piece does she offer any proof that Najjar’s ban is based on discrimination. Instead, Blend says that being Jewish, she, Blend, would say exactly what Najjar wanted to say, but when she said it, Quora often, though not always, let it through. It was only when Najjar said the same things that the content was removed and the ban imposed.
My answers were not targeted near as often as her writing. This would seem to support the contention that her ban was a case of censorship partly due to her national origin. Her content, which countered the Zionist “narrative” so long imposed on the struggle for justice in Palestine, was a problem for those busily disseminating hasbara content. Being philosophically and politically in agreement, she and I collaborated in answering questions. More often than not, Dr. Najjar edited my writing so that the ideas stood out more clearly. And yet, I was never a target of attacks that she received.
If Blend and Najjar have spent as much time on Quora as Blend suggests, then they know that this is not how Quora works. Any user can report a response or comment, adding a detailed complaint. Eventually a Quora moderator looks at the report and decides whether or not the material should be hidden, removed, or left alone.
Some Quorans do use the report feature to target those with whom they disagree. But that targeting works both ways: many of my responses and comments have been targeted in exactly this manner. Sometimes I win on appeal. Sometimes I don’t. A lot of my content has been hidden or removed.


It’s not just one side, not just Najjar, and not just me, either. One of my sons ended up with a lifetime ban just like Najjar’s for his Israel advocacy.
Because that’s how it works: if enough of your responses and comments are troublesome—meaning if enough users complain about you—Quora will ban you for life.
This is clearly what happened with Najjar.
Now when I don’t win, I move on. I say, “Those are the breaks.” It has never occurred to me to sue Quora, though, from time to time, I have suspected an individual moderator of anti-Israel bias.
In my case, I am often certain that a Quoran with an anti-Israel bias is using the report mechanism to silence my voice. But when it happens, I don’t then get up on a soapbox and accuse people of employing “military terms” to obliterate pro-Israel voices. I just buck up and keep on keeping on.
Najjar and her Jewish spokesperson, from my perspective, seem to be drowning in litigious self-pity or perhaps just plain old sour grapes. It can be rough out there on Quora. I don’t always like the rules. For instance, I try not to use the word “Palestinian,” because I don’t believe there is a distinct people known by this term. If I instead use the word “Arab,” someone will report me. The same is true of Facebook.
This isn’t fair, of course. But it’s how Quora and Facebook want it. If you want to play, you have to obey.
Najjar, in short, was not banned because of some inherent bias against her “national origins.” She was banned because she used language that offended people and violated Quora policies. Had she not done so and not been banned for life, Najjar might have discovered, as I have, that there is always a workaround: a way to tailor language to satisfy Quora specifications.
With a bit more creativity, Najjar might yet have been free to speak her mind on Quora. But since she was not more creative, and offended people, she is not free to speak her mind on Quora. And perhaps Najjar ought to take responsibility for that, instead of hiring lawyers and having her Jewish friend complain about me and the Israel Forever Foundation—who have nothing whatsoever to do with Najjar’s apparent lack of control—on Mondoweiss.

UPDATE: Before this piece was even published, another article appeared by Blend, this time in the Palestine Chronicle, making the same accusations, and using my Israel Forever Foundation article as an example of the "concerted campaign of harassment and censorship by Zionists and Israelis” that is targeting Najjar "for her content." Here she goes into even more detail, and winds up by suggesting that this "campaign" is at the behest of the Israeli government.


We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.

EoZTV Podcast

Podcast URL

Subscribe in podnovaSubscribe with FeedlyAdd to netvibes
addtomyyahoo4Subscribe with SubToMe

Support EoZ by shopping!

search eoz

comments

Speaking

follow me

Follow by Email

translate

Share on Whatsapp


E-Book

For $18 donation








Sample Text

EoZ's Most Popular Posts in recent years

Hasbys!

Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون



This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.

Donate!

Donate to fight for Israel!

Monthly subscription:
Payment options


One time donation:

subscribe via email

Follow EoZ on Twitter!

Tweets

Compliments

The Jerusalem Report:"A seemingly indefatigable one-man operation, armed only with a computer, chutzpa and stamina."

Algemeiner: "Fiercely intelligent and erudite"

Omri: "Elder is one of the best established and most respected members of the jblogosphere..."
Atheist Jew:"Elder of Ziyon probably had the greatest impression on me..."
Soccer Dad: "He undertakes the important task of making sure that his readers learn from history."
AbbaGav: "A truly exceptional blog..."
Judeopundit: "[A] venerable blog-pioneer and beloved patriarchal figure...his blog is indispensable."
Oleh Musings: "The most comprehensive Zionist blog I have seen."
Carl in Jerusalem: "...probably the most under-recognized blog in the JBlogsphere as far as I am concerned."
Aussie Dave: "King of the auto-translation."
The Israel Situation:The Elder manages to write so many great, investigative posts that I am often looking to him for important news on the PalArab (his term for Palestinian Arab) side of things."
Tikun Olam: "Either you are carelessly ignorant or a willful liar and distorter of the truth. Either way, it makes you one mean SOB."
Mondoweiss commenter: "For virulent pro-Zionism (and plain straightforward lies of course) there is nothing much to beat it."
Didi Remez: "Leading wingnut"

Interesting Blogs

Categories

Abbas liar Academic fraud administrivia al-Qaeda algeria Alice Walker American Jews Amnesty analysis anti-semitism antisemitism apartheid Arab antisemitism arab refugees Arafat archaeology Ari Fuld art ASHREI B'tselem bahrain Balfour bbc BDS BDSFail Bedouin Beitunia beoz Birthright book review Brant Rosen breaking the silence Campus antisemitism Cardozo cartoon of the day Chakindas Chanukah Christians circumcision Clark Kent coexistence Community Standards conspiracy theories Cyprus Daled Amos Daphne Anson David Applebaum Davis report DCI-P Divest This double standards Egypt Elder gets results ElderToons Electronic Intifada Embassy EoZ Trump symposium eoz-symposium EoZNews eoztv Erekat Erekat lung transplant EU Euro-Mid Observer European antisemitism Facebook jail Fake Civilians 2014 Fake Civilians 2019 Farrakhan Fatah featured Features fisking flotilla Forest Rain Forward free gaza freedom of press palestinian style future martyr Gary Spedding gaza Gaza Platform George Galloway George Soros German Jewry gideon levy gilad shalit gisha Goldstone Report Good news Grapel Guardian guest post gunness Haaretz Hadassah hamas Hamas war crimes Hananya Naftali hasbara Hasby 2014 Hasby 2016 Hasby 2018 hate speech Hebron helen thomas hezbollah history Hizballah Holocaust Holocaust denial honor killing HRW Human Rights Humanitarian crisis humor huor Hypocrisy ICRC IDF IfNotNow Ilan Pappe Ilhan Omar impossible peace incitement indigenous Indonesia international law intransigence iran Iraq Islamic Judeophobia Islamism Israel Loves America Israeli culture Israeli high-tech J Street jabalya jeremy bowen Jerusalem jewish fiction Jewish Voice for Peace jihad jimmy carter John Kerry jokes jonathan cook Jordan Joseph Massad Juan Cole Judaism Judea-Samaria Judean Rose Kairos Karl Vick Keith Ellison ken roth khalid amayreh Khaybar Know How to Answer Lebanon leftists Linda Sarsour Linkdump lumish mahmoud zahar Malaysia max blumenthal Mazen Adi McGraw-Hill media bias Methodist Michael Ross Miftah Missionaries moderate Islam Mohammed Assaf Mondoweiss moonbats Morocco Mudar Zahran music Muslim Brotherhood Naftali Bennett Nakba Nan Greer Nation of Islam Natural gas Nazi Netanyahu News nftp NGO NIF Noah Phillips norpac NYT Occupation offbeat Omar Barghouti Only in Israel Opinion oxfam PA corruption PalArab lies Palestine Papers pallywood pchr PCUSA Peace Now Peter Beinart Petra MB poetry Poland poll Poster Preoccupied Prisoners propaganda Proud to be Zionist Puar Purim purimshpiel Putin Qaradawi Qassam calendar Quora Rafah Ray Hanania real liberals reference Reuters Richard Falk Richard Silverstein Right of return Rivkah Lambert Adler Robert Werdine rogel alpher roger cohen roger waters Rutgers Saeb Erekat Sarah Schulman Saudi Arabia saudi vice self-death self-death palestinians settlements sex crimes SFSU shechita sheikh tamimi Shelly Yachimovich Shujaiyeh Simchat Torah Simona Sharoni SodaStream South Africa Speech stamps Superman Syria Tarabin Temple Mount Terrorism This is Zionism Thomas Friedman TOI Tomer Ilan Trump Tunisia Turkey UCI UK UN UNDP unesco unhrc UNICEF United Arab Emirates Unity unrwa UNRWA hate unrwa reports UNRWA-USA unwra Varda Vic Rosenthal Washington wikileaks work accident X-washing Y. Ben-David Yemen YMikarov zahran Ziesel zionist attack zoo Zvi

Blog Archive